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Series I: SITE project files
Series II: James Wines' Professional Papers
At a Glance
This collection documents the projects and activities of SITE, an architecture and environmental design firm co-founded in 1970 by James Wines and Alison Sky, with material dating from the early 1970s to 2017 (bulk 1990s). The collection is composed primarily of documents produced by James Wines for SITE and also includes a small selection of James Wines' professional papers. The SITE records include project files, drawings and sketches, photographic material, including a significant portion of SITE's slide collection, and marketing, exhibition and office records. Many of the project files document SITE's Green Architecture phase of the 1990s and more recent projects, including lesser known commercial work, such as restaurants and coffee shops. Much of this material relates to projects which have not been widely published, and reveals the breadth of the firm's practice beyond the major projects for which they are known. Many of the photographs and slides document the construction of SITE's experimental projects from the 1970s and 1980s. James Wines' papers include writings, lectures, research notes, limited correspondence, business plans, grant proposals, and documents related to publications, exhibitions, product design, and education projects.
The acquisition of this collection was entirely acquired from the SITE office in Manhattan, where the firm was based. Much of the physical and intellectual arrangement of the collection is retained from the organization of materials found in the office. For example, Series II: Professional Papers was housed in the personal office of Wines within the SITE office. Though most of this series reflects the academic work of James Wines as an individual, some of the materials reflect internal division of labor within the firm. For this reason, there are some project files housed with this series that correspond to documents in Series I: Project Files.
It is also notable that the collection represents James Wines' contribution to the collective architecture labor of SITE, meaning that project files are typically incomplete, due to the collaborative nature of their production.
Using the Collection
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SITE architectural records and James Wines papers, 1970-2017, Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was donated by James Wines in 2019 (accession 2019.011).
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
This collection was processed by Elena M'Bouroukounda, Graduate Intern, under the supervision of Shelley Hayreh, Archivist & Collection Manager, in 2022.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
James Wines (1932–) is an artist, architect and professor of urbanism and architecture. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1956 and pursued a career in sculpture and graphic design in New York. Early in his career, Wines became a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. James Wines is best known for his interdisciplinary art and architectural practice S.I.T.E. (Sculpture In The Environment), which he co-founded in 1970 with Alison Sky, E. Sousa and M. Stone.
Since its conception, S.I.T.E.'s work has engaged the interdisciplinary of architectural practice as cultural critique. During the 1970s, the firm challenged distinctions between art/architecture and landscape/building, among other dichotomies and engaged directly with legacies of American consumerism. A series of storefronts for BEST Product Company.Inc, including the Tilt Building (Towson, Maryland – 1976), Inside/Outside Building, (Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 1984) and the Forest Building (Richmond, Virginia – 1979), as well as installation works such as the "Ghost Parking Lot" (1978) are some of the most publicized works from this era. SITE's repertoire of theoretical projects, such as the Highrise of Homes (1981), had built Wines' reputation as an architectural renderer.
In the 1980s and 1990s, a growing preoccupation with environmental issues, information technologies and ecology characterized the SITE's work. During this period, S.I.T.E.'s designed and built public spaces, parks and urban landscapes across the globe. The firm also designed numerous exhibitions including, among others, pavilions for the Seville Expo in 1992, the Taejon Expo in 1993, and the Hannover Expo in 2000. In addition to public works, SITE also worked on many commercial projects and product designs during this period. Prototype designs for restaurant franchises such as Olive Garden (1994), Chilis (1996), Carrabba's (1997), and Costa Coffee (2007) reference SITE's early preoccupation with consumerism and likewise demonstrate the application of the firm's environmental principles across types and scales of architectural projects.
In addition to his role as co-founder and principle of S.I.T.E. Wines has had a prolific career as a lecturer and academic. Wines has held professorships at New York University Department of Art and Arts Professions as well as teaching positions at Dartmouth College, the University of Wisconsin, New Jersey School of Architecture, and Cooper Union Design Center. From 1984 to 1990, Wines was chair of the Environmental Design Department at Parsons School of Design. Since 1999, Wines has been a Professor Emeritus at Pennsylvania State University, where he taught and lectured at the School of Urbanism and Planning.
The work of SITE has been published in numerous architectural and arts publications. James Wines has also published a number of books about his theoretical approach to architecture, including De Architecture (1987) and Green Architecture (1999).